Newly acquired Jepsen joins Twins' bullpen
MINNEAPOLIS -- Reliever Kevin Jepsen, who was traded to the Twins from the Rays before Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, officially joined the club on Saturday, though he didn't pitch in his new club's 3-2 walk-off win over the Mariners.
Twins manager Paul Molitor met with Jepsen in his office before the game to explain his role to him, as Jepsen will serve as a setup reliever but could see time in the seventh and eighth innings depending on matchups.
"I talked to Kevin and he's obviously excited for the opportunity," Molitor said. "It's just nice to get a piece that has that much experience and ability. I've told him how the bullpen has been of late and how there are no stapled roles. But I'm not going to have any hesitation using him to get big outs."
Jepsen, 31, had a 2.81 ERA with 34 strikeouts and 20 walks in 41 2/3 innings with Tampa Bay before being traded for Minor League pitchers Chih-Wei Hu and Alexis Tapia. He said he was somewhat surprised he got traded, but was excited to join the Twins.
"I've seen rumors the last week or week-and-a-half or so, but the closer you get the Deadline the more you think it's less likely it'll happen," Jepsen said. "The Twins weren't one of the teams I had heard as far as rumors. But I love coming here. I love the ballpark. I hated facing the Twins because they're always a scrappy team. But walking in here, the clubhouse is great and the vibe from all the guys is phenomenal. So I'm excited to be here and be part of this team."
Jepsen said he's fine with whatever role the Twins want him in, as he was in a similar situation with the Rays, splitting setup duties with lefty Jake McGee. He said he was also happy to be traded to a team in the playoff hunt, as the Twins entered Saturday still in position as one of the two American League Wild Card teams.
"It's always nice to be wanted, especially by a team that thinks you can help them down the stretch," Jepsen said. "I definitely appreciate that. It's always fun playing for a team that has something to play for."
Jepsen also saw familiar faces in the clubhouse, as he was teammates with Torii Hunter and Ervin Santana from 2008-12 with the Angels. He also pitched with lefty reliever Brian Duensing in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Jepsen also said he's heard plenty about pitching coach Neil Allen and bullpen coach Eddie Guardado from former teammates with the Rays and Angels.
"I've been hearing stories about Neil all year long and everybody had nothing but good things to say about Neil," Jepsen said. "And I've been hearing stories about Eddie Guardado from Torii and LaTroy Hawkins while with the Angels. So I kinda feel like I already know him."